Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review – Vicarious Revisions

It is the law that you must refer to the titular hero of Crash Bandicoot as a marsupial every time you talk about him. I don’t know how or why this terrible law was put into place by Bill Clinton, but he did it and we all have to live with it.

I’m glad I got it out of the way early.

Developer: Vicarious Visions
Publisher: Activision
Format: PS4
Released: June 30, 2017
Copy purchased

If you had a PlayStation back in the day, chance were high of you encountering Crash Bandicoot in some form or other. It was difficult not to at least have a demo disc with those famous first levels on it, Sony being keen to show just how good those graphics looked – and believe it or not, Crash Bandicoot was a stunner for its time.

Though it formed a big part of the push toward a new era of game design, Naughty Dog’s original mascot platformer was chained to relics that kept it firmly rooted in the past. Its chief problem was a need for precise platforming navigation in an environment that simply was not built for such precision.

With third-person cameras still in their infancy, Crash Bandicoot suffered from depth-perception inadequacies and awkward framing that often confounded a player’s attempts to finagle abrupt ledges.

Nevertheless, it’s hard not to retain a certain fondness for one of the last memorable platforming mascots, and despite the N. Sane Trilogy‘s replication (and slight amplification) of the original frustrations, there’s a nostalgic worth in coming back.

Containing Crash BandicootCrash Bandicoot 2, and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, Vicarious Vision’s upgraded trip to PlayStation Past is a visually impressive reworking, taking every character and environmental detail to a gorgeous new height that bursts with color and lively animation.

Crash himself, no longer a manic-eyed jumble of jagged pixels, is fully expressive and looks fantastic with his fully rendered fur. Those notorious Temple of Doom levels are terrific with an HD coat of paint, while bosses are brimming with the kind of personality they just couldn’t communicate when bound to such crude polygonal representation.

Additionally, some rerecorded audio gives us consistency across all three games. The antagonistic Dr. Neo Cortex is now voiced across all three games by Lex Lang, who does a solid turn as the cranially impressive villain.

For the most part, gameplay is untouched. From a purist standpoint, this ensures the old Crash you loved feels like it should, though an unfortunate decision to alter the way jumping works based on Warped means the original Crash Bandicoot can actually be tricker to control than he used to be – this is quite an issue considering he already handled awkwardly as an early 3D platform protagonist.

Despite this additional hindrance, Crash Bandicoot is still a considerable amount of fun. Dated, occasionally infuriating fun, but fun nonetheless.

The only other notable addition is the ability to play as Coco in the original two games after dealing with the first boss. She can’t be used in certain stages, such as Hog Wild, but she’s there if you’re sick of jeans and want to see somebody in denim dungarees.

Personally, most of the enjoyment is based in nostalgia and I can’t help but wonder just how much I’d enjoy the game if I were playing it for the first time. It’s not that Crash has aged so poorly as to be unplayable these days – it’s still a highly adequate platformer in a world bereft of them – but I’m not sure my patience would have remained had I not known characters like Ripper Roo were yet to be encountered and I just had to hit those familiar beats.

N. Sane Trilogy, I’ll admit, is a difficult game for me to personally quantify, so aware I am that rose-tinted glasses are responsible for much of my retained fondness, while nevertheless wishing to compliment Vicarious Visions on a largely faithful remaster that genuinely impresses in the visual department.

It’s one of those games where you have to carefully weight the quality of the game itself against the quality of the remastering, and determine which elements deserve the most critical attention. Again, however, I need to reiterate that none of the Crash Bandicoot games are bad, and in fact the trilogy gets mechanically more enjoyable as each game continues, but that may account for the difficulty in my assessment – if the original title was simply terrible, it’d be far easier to write it off.

Ultimately, I can only say I had fun going back to Crash Bandicoot, even if I found myself wanting to toss my controller at certain points and that notorious sky bridge level is still one of the absolute worst pieces of interactive crap you could ever suffer.

Probably just best to go for the safe score, eh?

7/10
Good

Haru\'s axe
Guest
Haru\'s axe

I was wondering why the Jumping is so terrible in the first game. Pulled out the old PlayStation and the original crash controls a little better than the remaster. Seems lazy on their part for making the jump the same across all three games. Controls in three are designed around the power ups from bosses. No power ups in one to help balance out the lead like hop.

JB Wuff
Guest
JB Wuff

I personally think both sides of the game reception are correct and also wrong, it’s a hard game and all but it is doable, you get better and better with practice I at first thought the remake had screwed up the physics and kept expecting it to be broken (I’m a cynical cinder of pure contempt) But no! the game works! the controls are refined it’s precision platforming it takes skill and you WILL get better, that’s the fun of videogames TOUGH but fair We all sucked at it at first. Crash and Spyro fans have had nothing but a… Read more »

jrizz43
Member

The only Crash Bandicoot I want to play is in Uncharted 4!

SaintHeartwing
Member

Wait. Wait. WAIT. “Dated, occasionally infuriating fun, but fun nonetheless.” So the controls and stuff being dated are fine HERE. And you admit nostalgia might be playing a huge role, but it’s fine HERE…but it’s NOT fine with Yooka-Laylee? Isn’t that just a BIT of cognitive dissonance?

VinLAURiA
Guest
VinLAURiA

They got rid of the Crash font. I’ll never understand why they did that.

Themoonlightwolf1
Member

I rate it approximately “not Spyro”/10.

Joe Lomax
Guest
Joe Lomax

I understand the need to remake certain games. Possible reasons could be that the controls are now outdated, for example many fps games which had god awful clunky controls compared to the dual analogue stick/ WASD + mouse setup which became standard after a certain point. But a game like Crash Bandicoot? From what I’ve seen from various playthroughs etc all they seemed to have changed is the graphics and the ‘continue’ mechanic where if you lose all your lives you can restart the level. Personally I think that aesthetically speaking the lower polygon count of the earlier game adds… Read more »

Diet Doctor Dingus
Guest
Diet Doctor Dingus

I would honestly bite the nostalgia bullet and issue this game an 8.5 or even a 9. I personally had a damn great time with all of these games, ESPECIALLY 1&2. I even 100%’d them because I couldn’t get enough.

Sperium3000
Member

Oh, and just a heads up, I translated this review to Brazilian Portuguese to post it on this facebook group I’m a part of. As always, I put a disclaimer saying who actually wrote it and where it came from, so if you don’t like it just gimme a heads up and I’ll take it down.

Sperium3000
Member

Also I never had this depth perception problem everyone’s been talking about. Not judging or holding it over everyone’s heads or anything, just saying. It’s weird, guess it depends on the person.

Sperium3000
Member

I’ve been hearing how much these games haven’t aged very well like others of its time, the Mario 64 comparison pops up frequently. And my immediate impulse is to say “Have you PLAYED Mario 64 recently? ‘Cause guess what buckaroo, that hasn’t aged well either. Maybe the first levels where the world is open and enemies are placed in dumb easy ways, but as soon as the game demands precision platforming from you everything goes to shiiiiiiiiiiit…” But I digress. Crash 3 was the first game I played in the Playstation and I always loved this series. It’s funny how… Read more »

JackieGoOutside
Guest
JackieGoOutside

I thought this would get a 7 since it would require them to screw up really bad to get lower.

I, personally, wouldn’t rate a remaster more than 7 unless it added more or it was significantly different from the original, no matter how much I would have rated the original. Fancier graphics don’t really change the fact it’s a game that has already been done.

Nick
Guest
Nick

I can’t wait to see all the butthurt comparing this and Yooka-Laylee.

Claire Robsahm
Guest
Claire Robsahm

Now when are we getting Spyro trilogy remastered, Sony? ;;

sam
Guest
sam

Just remember kids, biased reviews are fine as long as the bias is transparent. Then it’s up to the viewer as to whether or not that bias is a deal breaker when considering the review’s validity.
I’ve got all the same nostalgia for this series as Jim does, so for me this was a very useful review.

Ps1
Guest
Ps1

Wtf? You high? This has to be one of the best remastered game ever.

Megaoverlord12
Member

I played a fair number on 3D platformers (all 3D Marios and Sonics, most of the Ratchet & Clanks, Jak 3, and Banjo-Kazooie); friend brought over his PS4 for our group of friends (who are MUCH less proficient with 3D platformers mind) and I to try it. We started with the first game and absolutely hated it. The level design feels cheap, with death pits seemingly hidden by the camera, and an obnoxious amount of pixel perfect platforming. The boar riding level can go and die. Not to mention that you have no idea whether you should bother trying to… Read more »

Lana Lang
Guest
Lana Lang

Did Bill Clinton actually do that or are you trolling me?